Chicago Edges Higher In The Dark

07/10/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed mostly around the middle of the day's trading range, 1-6 cents higher. With no official USDA crop progress data to go on the trade is resorting to having to guess. A Reuters poll estimated that the US soybean harvest was possibly around 22% complete, from within a quite wide range of estimates of 16-30%. This possibly highlights how far out some trade ideas could be from reality once we finally do resume getting some numbers from Washington. A week from now those estimates could be 25 percentage points apart. The harvest was officially 11% done a week ago. We should also have had weekly export inspections data from the USDA today, indicating the pace of US exports. These were also missing. A Bloomberg survey was said to have pegged US 2013 soybean yields at 41.6 bu/acre with production at 3.161 billion bushels. The USDA's September estimates were 41.2 bu/acre and 3.149 billion bushels. The Bloomberg survey came up with a lower harvested area estimate than the USDA or production would have been higher. The same survey pegged US 2013/14 carryout at 175 million bushels versus 150 million from the USDA last month. The gist is that a variety of private estimates from Linn Group, FCStone and Informa all agree with this Bloomberg survey that US soybean yields and production are probably higher than the USDA forecast last month. Safras e Mercado said on Friday that Brazilian soybean planting is 2.8% complete versus 3.0% a year ago and 2.4% on average. Rain is gradually creeping into the forecast for for the top producing state of Mato Grosso. Celeres estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 soybean crop at a record 86.2 MMT versus a previous estimate of 85.2 MMT. They said Brazilian growers have sold 30% of their 2013/14 soybean crop versus 46% a year ago. Nov 13 Soybeans closed at USD12.96 1/2, up 1 1/2 cents; Jan 14 Soybeans closed at USD12.97, up 2 cents; Oct 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD433.70, up USD2.40; Oct 13 Soybean Oil closed at 39.65, down 34 points - the second lowest close for a front month in more than 3 years.

Corn: Corn closed 5-6 cents firmer, although front month Dec 13 couldn't manage to break through resistance at USD4.50/bushel, finishing just below that level. In the absence of any data from the USDA, a Reuters survey estimated that the 2013 US corn harvest might be around 20% done versus 28% on average at this time. The range of estimates was 17-27%. Harvesting was officially 12% done as of a week ago. "Harvesting stalled last week where more than 2 inches of rain occurred in SE Minnesota, NW Wisconsin and eastern Nebraska. Ohio and most of Indiana also were hit with strong rain storms, receiving 2.5-3 inch rainfall. Moderate showers occurred in the balance of Midwest farms. This was the wettest week for Midwest corn and soybeans since the beginning of July," said Martell Crop Projections. Bloomberg reported that their survey pegged US 2013 corn yields at an average 157.0 bu/acre from within a range of estimates of 153.2-159.4 bu/acre, versus 155.3 bu/acre from the USDA last month. The survey pegged production at an average 13.836 billion bushels, that's still a record although not much different from last month's 13.843 billion forecast from the USDA. The reason for that is harvested acres being seen at 88 million versus 89.14 million from the USDA in September. There's talk of China buying US corn during the past week as prices dipped to 3-year lows. Safras e Mercado said that Brazil's 2013/14 corn crop is 30% planted versus 27% a year ago. Planting is furthest advanced in the wetter south. Mato Grosso corn planting is 2% complete versus 3.4% on average. They pegged the Brazilian corn crop at 77.0 MMT versus 82.0 MMT a year previously, but significantly higher than the USDA's September estimate of 72.0 MMT. CONAB are due to release their first Brazilian crop production estimates for the new season tomorrow. Ukraine have harvested 6.2 MMT of corn so far from their anticipated record 26-29 MMT crop. A warmer and drier outlook for the week ahead should allow for some significant advancement. The French corn harvest is yet to start, FranceAgriMer reported on Friday. This time last year 6% of the crop had been harvested. Dec 13 Corn closed at USD4.49 1/4, up 6 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at USD4.61 3/4, up 5 3/4 cents.

Wheat: Wheat closed around 4-7 cents higher on the day, maintaining it's substantial premium over corn. Dec 13 CBOT wheat looks to be lining itself up for a shot at breaking above the USD7/bushel level. A front month hasn't closed that high since June. There's talk that Brazil bought more HRW Wheat on Friday. Iraq, Algeria, Jordan and Bangladesh are all tendering for wheat. India is trying to make it's mind up whether to lower the bar on the wheat it wants to sell, or sit and hope that international prices move back up above USD300/tonne. "Hope isn't much of a strategy," as one trader said to me today. Fund money continues to close out it's short position in CBOT wheat, buying an estimated net 2,000 contracts on the day. Unfortunately we don't have any data from the CFTC from Friday to see how much of their short was closed out last week. The most recent data we have to go on is the The Commitments of Traders reports as of September 24th. That showed Non-Commercial and Non-reportable combined traders holding a net short of 55,392 contracts. As long as they continue to close out that position, CBOT wheat will remain supported. It may be that the ongoing US budget impasse is encouraging them to adopt a "risk off" mentality and exit these shorts, but that doesn't explain why they still seem relatively comfortable keeping their sizable corn short. Everybody, including both the Russian and Ukraine Ag Ministry, are talking FSU winter grain plantings sharply lower, with production being similarly cut for 2014. Russia’s Ag Ministry estimated Russia’s 2014 winter grain area at 13.0 million hectares versus the original target of 16.4 million. SovEcon concur at 13.0-13.5 million. They've currently planted 8.7 million hectares versus 12.8 million this time a year ago. The Ukraine Ag Ministry meanwhile said last week that their 2014 wheat crop could fall by a third. Rewind to 2013 and we find that Russia have harvested 81.3 MMT of grains so far this year off 83% of the planned area, yet the forecast for the full harvest is only 90 MMT. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.94 3/4, up 7 3/4 cents; KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.56 1/2, up 6 1/4 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.50 1/4, up 4 cents.